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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

FAO calls Horn of Africa crisis meeting on 18 August

Up to now, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has provided aid to nearly 8 million people in the region in the past five weeks and is targeting 11.5 million out of more than 13 million people affected by the drought and famine, with governments and partners tending to the rest. It recently started a series of nine airlifts to Mombasa, Kenya, carrying a total of 800 tons of high-energy biscuits (HEBs), enough to feed 1.6 million people for a day.

The biscuits are being pre-positioned for onward delivery to vulnerable people throughout the region, where scores of thousands of Somalis are seeking relief in overcrowded refugee camps in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, both of which have also been affected by the crisis. WFP aims to deliver over the next two months 2,000 tons of fortified food to fight acute childhood malnutrition, 2,000 tons of HEBs, and 10,000 tons of fortified cereal by air and road to Somalia. This follows an initial airlift of 86 tons to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, enough to feed more than 30,000 malnourished children under age five for a month.

Looking beyond the immediate crisis of saving the lives of the acutely malnourished, many of them children under five, the FAO will host a high-level meeting in Rome on 18 August to agree on steps to spark a short-term agricultural recovery, such as cash for work for agricultural and water harvesting, seed distribution, vaccination and animal feeding, irrigation and food storage.

These actions will transition into support to governments’ medium- to long-term plans, building resilience over the long haul. The agency has already asked for $161 million to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and pastoralists across the drought-struck region but has so far only received or had commitments for around $57 million, leaving a $103 million shortfall.

Source: United Nations